During childhood vacations, all Radhika Hoshing, executive director of Grace Montessori School, and her twin sister ever wanted to do was play teacher and student. It is no wonder both grew up to be educators. “My grandmother, who we were very close to, was a teacher and she taught in a public school setting. She made a big impression on both of our lives,” says Hoshing. “I always wanted to be like her.”
Hoshing, who has worked at the school since 2008, brings a passion for education and the Montessori philosophy to her role, which is an outreach program of Grace Episcopal Church in Allentown. She is motivated by her belief that quality education ought to be made available to all children regardless of economic background.
Born and raised in India, Hoshing attended a private school. “I used to have friends in the neighborhood who couldn’t afford going to our school, and even as a kid I used to always think about how unfair that was,” Hoshing says. “So from childhood I could see that disconnect happening between families, but never understood why.”
A career in education was not her parents’ first choice for their daughters. “Living in India, where every single parent wants their child either to be a doctor or an engineer, or open up their own business — teaching is something that nobody really looks up to because it’s not a high-paying job,” Hoshing says. “And when I told my parents that I wanted to do this, my dad just looked at me and said, ‘you’re on your own.’” Hoshing pursued her passion, earning a master’s degree in education from Bombay University. “I was supposed to pick a philosopher for the final paper,” Hoshing says. “I kept looking at different options, and then one of my friends happened to send me an article about Montessori education and its advantages, and I decided I wanted to write my paper about Maria Montessori.”
Hoshing’s interest in the Montessori method continued to grow after graduation. “The first thing that attracted me was the Montessori material and the way it was designed — that it was hands-on, and that children had the opportunity to touch and feel things and nothing was abstract. The second thing was the multi-age classrooms. That model really attracted me, because I like how children learn from each other. It’s amazing to see that working.”
There were no Montessori elementary training centers in India, so Hoshing moved to the United States to study at the Montessori Institute of Milwaukee. “It was actually a big shock to my parents when I told them I want to do this, because I come from a culture where the family stays together until you are married and decide to step out of the house,” Hoshing says. “So it was really difficult for my parents to say ‘yes,’ because it was far, far away.”
After receiving her Montessori certification, Hoshing taught in Florida. When her husband’s work brought the couple to Pennsylvania, Hoshing began looking for a school. “In Florida, I couldn’t find any schools offering scholarships,” remembers Hoshing. “But when I moved to Allentown and I saw the website of Grace Montessori School, I knew that if they hired me I wanted to stay with them, because they hold my core value that education should be made available to everybody.”
Thanks to successful fundraising, Grace awards close to $75,000 in scholarships each year. “We have students coming from all different areas around here, and we also have children who live in Allentown itself,” Hoshing says. “And those are the families who really need some kind of financial help. Because we do the paperwork, we know there’s a big financial gap between certain families, but the children are so clueless about it, which is the best part … In fact, we don’t even let our teachers know that a particular child is on scholarship, because we don’t want them to look at a particular child from any other point of view but this child is here for learning and we are here to support the child. That’s it.”